Isn’t this the happiest tiger in the world? Look how good that stretch feels!
As the days drag along, we carry so much stress in our bodies. It becomes almost a default posture to sit at a desk and hunch over. Then, we get home and find everything from our shoulders up is hard as a rock.
Or, we stay in the same position so long that any movement feels like ti takes more effort than it should.
Whatever way it builds, hauling around a bunch of tension in our muscles is not good for us, not physically, mentally, or emotionally.
So soothe your poor body! Do some stretching! Some tips to remember before I share a few great stretching exercises with you.
- NEVER bounce while stretching. You can cause injury. Stretching is a smooth motion, and at the farthest point, you hold it for a few seconds.
- If it hurts, STOP. Stretching should let you feel the “pull” of a muscle stretching out, but it should not hurt. If it does, you may have an injury or you may need someone to help you do it the right way.
- Your goal is not to gain the flexibility of a contortionist. Your goal is to relieve the tightness in the muscles.
When we stretch we give ourselves a lot of benefits.
- Reduced stress and anxiety.
- Increased blood flow.
- Better muscle performance.
- Better odds of avoiding injury.
- Improved posture
- Better joint flexibility and function.
If you don’t already stretch regularly, start slow.
When I was beginning physical therapy, that meant 5 of each type of stretch on each side, and the stretches focused on my arms, legs, and feet. That was all I was supposed to do at first. After about three weeks of that, we doubled the stretches. In the first week, I had two stretches to do. One new stretch was added weekly. By the time we doubled the count, I had a grand total of five different stretches and was doing 2 sets of 10 each day.
Slow means slow.
Now, what stretches are good to start with?
As always, check with your doctor if you’re unsure about any of these. I’m only providing ideas, not medical guidance.
For people like myself who use a computer most hours of the day, here are some great stretches you can do anywhere.
6 Great Stretches for Writers (This does include some full-body stretches. Use them at your own discretion and please only where it’s safe! Falling while trying to stretch is not a thing you want to explain to a paramedic, I do speak from experience!)
For those who don’t get to move around enough, here are some good stretches for your legs and feet.
And, last but not least, how to get the kinks out of your spine.
Hope these give you some ideas about how to target relief to the muscles where you need it. Doing these regularly will yield longer-lasting relief between sessions. As quick as they are, and as many as can be done without anyone even realizing you’re stretching, there’s plenty of space to slip them in.
Parents, get the kids in on it with you! Help them learn those good habits we’re all trying to instill!
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